Kinn Portrait.jpg

Courtesy Kinn


Freddy Lomas Discusses His Musical Experimentations as Kinn

Published Friday, Jul 22, 2022

Producer and multi-instrumentalist Freddy Lomas, who produces otherworldly sounds as Kinn, created a score for a recent Pace Live performance presented in London amid Night Time, artist Latifa Echakhch’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. In the performance, dancers Maëva Berthelot and Ndoho Ange responded to Kinn’s sensorial, haunting soundscape. In a new interview, Lomas revisits the performance and explicates the connections between his music and the visual arts. 
The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

Claire Selvin: Can you tell me about the soundscape you produced for the Pace Live performance within Latifa Echakhch’s exhibition in London—how did it transform the gallery space? 

Freddy Lomas: Latifa was incredibly kind to put her faith in myself and the dancers— Maëva and Ndoho—to give us complete freedom to respond to her work. So, I went with the idea of writing music that behaved in the same way a film score would. Looking at the paintings in the exhibition, I tried to imagine a narrative, a thread or timeline in the works. Soundtracks are often used to really emphasize subtleties in emotion or plot, so I took whatever I could from each painting and blew it up in scale with these quite epic pieces of music. These parts were also a bit more eventful musically, with sections and moments that I considered Maëva and Ndoho could create movement to, but both of them could move to anything because they are extremely gifted. It was quite amazing to see.

I wrote four pieces of music and four soundscapes for the two-hour event. The soundscapes were generally more environmental—I took to processing ambient sound from raves and parties, field recordings of people talking in the smoking areas with the echoes of music from inside filtering through. These were then distorted and mangled to produce this really weird, otherworldly atmosphere with the odd ecstatic scream of a crowd poking out above the surreal textures.

The sequencing between the soundscapes and music broke up the performance, with the soundscapes generally being less intense and allowing people to freely experience the artworks at their own leisure, then transitioning into the music to create these cinematic moments with Maëva and Ndoho really going for it. These moments were hard not to be drawn into—they were pretty loud, too! I had to request ear plugs be handed out, I hope the gallery didn’t get any complaints from neighbors.

The project wasn’t intended to be a big homage to rave, but more about the subtle stories happening within each painting.

Freddy Lomas

CS: What were some of the ideas informing the soundscape you produced for the performance?

FL: During the initial conversation I had with Mark Beasley (curatorial director of Pace Live), we were aware that there have been many bad recontextualizations of rave in popular culture. It’s almost the more you try to nod to it, the cringier it gets. So, we wanted to sort of look past it without doing a cheap Burial/Mark Fisher knockoff. We both latched onto the idea of mourning the death or absence of rave, as there was a sense of mourning emanating from these paintings made during the pandemic. These social scenes seem frozen in some rave limbo. 

Another angle on this was that, while there are venues, like FOLD in Canning Town, that are really pushing club culture, it's widely acknowledged that rave’s salad days are over. It’s been snuffed out in this country by stuffy political action and the insane cost of living that leaves little spare change to go out and let loose. The only thing that was blatantly appropriated in the music for the show was sampling Frédéric Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2—aka the funeral march. I don’t tend to go with such blatant references in my work, but it was quite nice to play with this iconic motif.

I have a page in my notebook dedicated to the Pace show, which is almost unintelligible. It’s a page so dense with black ink, single phrases, and references that it’s hard to read. The phrases “STICKY FLOOR” and “dubplate dirge” written here are pretty hilarious now that I read them. I packed the performance material with lots of nuanced concepts, whether these translated into the final thing they were going around my head during the process. 

CS: How did you understand the relationship between your sound and the paintings by Latifa Echakhch that were on view?

FL: To me, Latifa’s work wasn’t drawing from any conventional aesthetics or rave iconography to communicate some of the main concepts in her work. When I was asked to do the project, I had a slight panic as I don’t really do rave sirens and amen breaks—my music is more suited for staring at the floor, it doesn’t scream fun or appealing nightlife. So, the project wasn’t intended to be a big homage to rave, but more about the subtle stories happening within each painting. I was given the confidence to bring my honest and intrinsic response to the project.

There’s a lot of drama in Latifa’s paintings. Some of them, looked at without the context of clubbing, are quite intense, bordering on violent. I guess for some people, clubbing does look this way, with the thrashing limbs, sweat, and all. I thought it was interesting to exaggerate this bizarre interpretation of this drama and write music that attempted to push this out more.

CS: More broadly, how do you view the relationship between your music and visual art?

FL: This is very important! Kinn is very much an instrumental project for the time being, and instrumental music lends itself to film and other visual mediums. I am working on a score for a short film at the moment and really enjoying working to visuals—it feels very natural to my workflow. Instrumental music has always had this appeal to me: even when it’s massive sonically, it’s somehow less intrusive than music with lyrics. With instrumental music, someone isn’t bombarding you with acute concepts through language—your brain can freely wander, being inspired by vague textures usually evoking visuals or personalized imaginary films taking place in my head. Not to say I don’t appreciate lyric-based music, too. I’m a huge fan of Scott Walker—his lyrics are so textured, you can almost smell them.

I often write music while filling folders on my computer with visual reference materials—photos and artworks that I feel have some sort of harmony with what I am trying to achieve with the music. I’m currently working with a visual artist Anna Clegg. We met over Instagram and felt a strong resonance with each other's work. We are working on some artwork for the next Kinn album, and I’m very happy with how it transfers the music’s vibe into a visual medium. I am also really inspired by Kingsley Ifill’s work and a lot of Tarmac Press’s output.

At the same time, I love music written objectively, or exclusively, for sound’s sake. It’s just about balancing these relationships on a day-by-day basis. 

Watch Ndoho Ange, Maëva Berthelot, and Kinn perform live from Latifa Echakhch's Night Time at Pace Gallery, London

CS: What are some of the thematic or conceptual focuses of your wider musical practice, and how does your soundscape in the Pace Live performance fit into or reflect those broader concerns?

FL: I don’t often start with a concept. I start with sound and then my brain starts pulling out all these visual references that become an ouroboros of inspiration until a tangible concept can be made out. I don’t believe writing music should be a stressful process, but my creative practice is quite labor-intensive, so it can take a while to finish ideas. Sometimes getting inspired by another medium can knead a bit of enthusiasm back into it. 

I am mainly trying to stop people in their tracks when they hear my music—a sort of grounding for reflection, not always with loud bass heavy disruptions. But I think I want to create work that is rich in feeling, to convey something without having it spelled out in words, a struggle, something very human, while doing it with sounds that excite me. I think lots of music has utility: club music feels very much akin to how folk music once did, a tradition that serves a function in the day to day of society. While I think this utility is incredibly important, I guess I want to create unique experiences for people, whether it’s the performance for Pace Live or a Kinn studio album. A performance may only get experienced once and an album may not get thousands of replays on streaming platforms, but the one time people stumble across it, I hope it stirs something in them. 

CS: How would you characterize your unique approach to rave music and dirge—how do those two genres come together in your work?

FL: I released an album a few years ago called Anamnesis Landscape, which contained themes very sympathetic to the concepts of a dirge. It was loosely based on some of the trendy topics around hauntology, with rave being a very prevalent genre in that discussion. 

I am aware of how connected everything is. I missed the rave bug as a teenager—I was very anxious back then and didn’t really enjoy crowds, but the sound systems were always the headline act for me (hence the ear plugs). Listening to music written for these systems that were built to be loud was always so intensely emotional. So, while I was never part of the culture, I loved the music that came out of rave (Regis, Photek, and Venetian Snares spring to mind). I think the sound palette and balances of the mix in my music are very informed by that time of my life. I don’t know how obvious this is from listening to my music, but it’s there, maybe if you try to squint your ears.

  • Essays — Freddy Lomas Discusses His Musical Experimentations as Kinn, Jul 22, 2022